In recent times, we very often have to hear news from Syria, but basically they are reports of military operations. About how ordinary people live in Syria, in its capital Damascus and in cities destroyed by war, almost nothing is known. This can be learned reliably only by going to this country yourself.

I was lucky to be in Syria as an independent traveler despite all the difficulties of getting into the country.

Syria

How to get to Syria

Getting to Syria is not so difficult in principle.

There are two main ways:
1) Fly by plane. You can fly from Moscow to Syria by direct flight, the cost of the flight will be around 450$. Flights by a private Syrian company. Which, among other things, transports the fighters of the PMCs of Wagner.
2) Get to Syria via Lebanon. The flight from Moscow to Beirut costs about 220$, and then by road, across the Lebanon-Syrian border.
I chose the second option, as it is not only cheaper, but for me it was an opportunity to visit another country.

How to get to Syria and apply for a visa

In fact, to get to Syria is not easy at all. Independently, as an ordinary tourist, it will not be possible to enter Syria.

But there are two main ways to get into the country.
1) You buy a tour from a Syrian travel agency and then this agency will issue you a visa. The cost of one day tour on average is $ 200. At the same time, a route plan is drawn up at the Ministry of Tourism of Syria, deviations from which are practically impossible. You will be taken to the standard landmarks of the country - monuments, museums, etc. That is, in fact, you will see little of the lives of ordinary people.
2) Receive an invitation from the Syrian, in which he undertakes to provide you with accommodation, as well as bears full responsibility for you. The cost of a visa to Syria is $ 35.

Road to Syria How to get to Damascus

And so, I received an invitation from a Syrian friend and flew to the capital of Lebanon, Beirut. Visa to Lebanon for Russians, it turns out in any crossing point of Lebanon, if the purpose of the trip is tourism. But for some reason, a "very responsible" employee before issuing me a visa tortured me with various questions for 20-25 minutes.

Beirut

I planned to spend the night in Beirut, and the next morning I would go to Damascus. General taxis depart from Beirut to Damascus from Charles Helou station. The fare for filling the car is $ 20. The road to Damascus is about 2-3 hours, with one stop for snacking and passing the border.

And so, I went from Charles Helou station, with me there were three more fellow travelers, Syrians, two guys and a girl. The taxi was not complete, so I had to pay $ 30 in order not to wait. After about an hour we stopped at a Lebanese cafe for a snack and I ordered a light vegetable breakfast

Beirut

Then, after about an hour, we arrived at the border between Lebanon and Syria. Departure from Lebanon is no problem.
But the passage of the Syrian border is a very serious matter. I went to the window for foreign citizens and the border service officer presented a scan of the Syrian invitation, written by hand, and same scan of his passport. After examining the paper, the border guard asked whether it was possible to contact this person. I showed him the phone number and he said that I would call him and he would talk to him. I managed to get through to my friend only from 4 times, for me it was a tense moment. The border guard with my friend talked on the phone in Arabic for about five minutes. After that, he took all the papers that I presented to him and went to the office of the authorities. He returned in about 15 minutes and told me that I would go to pay for the visa.

Then we traveled with my companions to the outskirts of Damascus, where other taxis were waiting for us. To get to the right place in Damascus had to pay another $ 5. Before we reached the outskirts of Damascus, we drove several block posts. On each of them we were stopped and checked the car and the contents of the bags. And every time, at every block of the post, the taxi driver proudly said that I was from Russia and my things were practically not touched.
Then, in Damascus itself, the situation repeated itself. When we drove through the block posts, the taxi driver said that I was Russian, the soldiers smiled at me and waved their hands, and they almost did not inspect things. Only at one of about 10 block posts I was seriously checked, that is, like everyone else. Then, when we were driving along Damascus, the taxi driver called someone and then gave me the phone. In the tube, I heard a man who spoke Russian with a slight accent. He introduced himself as a professor at Syrian University and said that if I need help in Damascus, he will provide it to me.

Important information for those who still decide to go to Syria

Now general information for travelers about the situation in Syria.
Booking a hotel in Syria is very problematic, since hotel booking services do not work with Syria. Also being in Syria itself, it is also impossible to book a hotel in any other country of the world, since Syrian ip addresses are blocked. This is possible only with the help of some vpn services. Why some, because the main vpn services also do not work in Syria.
International payment systems do not work in Syria, and Syrian ATMs serve only Syrian banks.
But despite this, everything is not so bad in Syria, as it may seem at first glance, you just need to understand where you are going and how to behave there.
Going to Syria you need to take the currency with you and it’s better if it is dollars. Dollars can be safely exchanged in Syrian banks, as well as in hotels. You can also pay in dollars almost everywhere in Syria.
This is the result of a conflict, despite the hostile relations between the US and Syria, the dollar here is the dominant currency.
I also want to note that the average salary of state employees is Syria about $ 50. But it’s hard to believe how people live in Damascus.
The price of 1 liter of gasoline 225 Syrian lira is about 44 cents. Gasoline in Syria is only one category.

Damascus
Petrol station in Damascusе.

Damascus

Going to Damascus, I studied the reports of travelers until 2011, on the topic of Damascus hotels. I found the page of one of the hotels on Facebook, and first of all I noticed that the page was updated periodically and the updates were fresh. But what was my surprise when I arrived at this hotel, all the rooms in it were occupied. It would seem that Syria is a country from which they rather leave than vice versa and it’s not necessary to talk about any tourists, and the whole hotel is busy.
The benefit is very close, there was another hotel, quite a decent level (what it looks like you can see in the video will be lower) and I settled in it for $ 35 a day.

After settling in, I and my Syrian comrade decided to walk through the old town. And the first thing we noticed there was a remarkable church, with an expensive car in its yard. Apparently, not only in Russia, priests live in a big way.

Damascus

In general, cars in Syria are not cheap because of the high cost of customs clearance of cars, which is equal to 200%. For example, the Russian car produced in 2003 costs 2,600,000 lire, which is more than $ 5000

 

Damascus

Cadillac is a year younger, that is, in 2004, in Lebanon, you can buy a little more for $ 5500. Therefore, many residents of Syria who buy cars, buy them in Lebanon and periodically leave Syria for Lebanon and back, so as not to produce customs clearance.

Beirut

 

Often on the machines of the Syrians, you can see photos of their national leaders, as in this case.

Damascus

 

It is also worth noting that Damascus is quite secular and tolerant (in the normal sense of the word) city. There are markets, bars, nightclubs and restaurants in the city . In Damascus, a sufficient number of restaurants and cafes at various levels, from cheap cafes where you can eat for $ 1, to quite respectable.

Damascus
Dinner with Syrian comrades

In the photo below, I was told the Syrian dish. The soup consists of zucchini, pickled cucumbers, carrots, and peas, sometimes mushrooms are added. Rice with nuts and a plate with salted and fresh vegetables are added to this dish. As my Syrian comrade told me, many people eat this dish after drunkenness. The cost of this dish is about $ 8 in a mid-level restaurant.

Damascus

Girls in Damascus, can walk fully clad in the burqa.

Damascus

As well as others can afford to go to a nightclub in jeans, and in the topic with an open belly. But more on that lat

Damascus Souk Al-Hamidia Market 

Damascus

The market in Damascus is a separate story and for this in this article I will touch on it in general terms. According to some sources, the market Souq al-Hamidiya, is the oldest working market in the world, its age is about 1000 years. From myself I will add that the market is very interesting and colorful, there are many interesting rare and authentic things on it.

For example, Russian samovar 1882 release. The price was called for $ 150. The photos are not of high quality, as this is a screenshot from the video, and the video was filmed in a store without light. The light was just from the phone flashlight.

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Syria

As in almost every Arab market, hookahs are also sold here.

Damascus

Despite the fact that there are practically no tourists in Damascus, not a few souvenirs and magnets are sold here.

Damascus

Damascus

Damascus

And this is a very interesting souvenir plate with the image of Bashar Assad, Vladimir Putin and the leader of the movement Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah.

Damascus

Also in this market there is a cafe where you can try a unique ice cream of its kind, the recipe of which is stored for more than 100 years and is passed from father to son. Earlier, before the events of 2011, almost all travelers who visited Damascus, came to this cafe to try this ice cream. The consistency of ice cream is tough and resembles soft toffee. And to taste, I did not immediately understand it, it gives me milk, not the one that is sold in the store, but that which I, when I tried for a very long time in the village.

Damascus

 Also in Damascus there is a very good silver market with very nice prices. The cost of 1 gm of silver in the product ranges from 1$ to 5$, depending on the product.
I bought a chain weighing 20 gm for 30$ in this market. We came to a jewelry store in Tula, Russia, and about the same chain cost 110$.

Damascus

Damascus Umayyad Mosque and the Ashes of Saladin

Lately, I don’t really like visiting standard sights - monuments and museums. If I visit such things, then most of the places are really worth seeing.

One such place is the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Among other things, this mosque is still known for the remains of the great Islamic leader of the 12th century, Saladin. Sultan of Egypt, Iraq, Hejaz, Syria, Kurdistan, Yemen, Palestine, Libya. It was he who conquered Damascus and Jerusalem, but at the same time allowed the pilgrimage of Christians to the holy city and left in their hands the temple of the Holy Sepulcher. Saladin was the idol of many leaders of the past and present, such as Saddam Hussein. His image has been used in many computer games.

Umayyad Mosque

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Umayyad Mosque
The place where the ashes of Saladin is kept

Umayyad Mosque

At the moment, a completely calm and peaceful life is taking place in Damascus.

Damascus

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And the traces of the hit shells, people adorned with improvised.

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Damascus nightlife - bars, clubs and restaurants.

Also in Damascus there are enough places where you can have a good time, for example, play bowling.

Damascus

In addition, in Damascus, as I already wrote above, there are quite a few night clubs where young people are entertained and not only. Many girls in Damascus are modern and sociable, and in nightclubs they love to dance on the tables. There it is a very common phenomenon.
Below will be presented photos, or rather screenshots of videos taken in night clubs and Damascus restaurant.

This is one of the first youth institutions in Damascus

Damascus

Damascus

Damascus

I can mark an interesting moment in this bar a girl from Russia from St. Petersburg works as a waitress

Here is a check from this bar by which you can judge prices - 500 lire is $ 1

Damascus

 

And this is a restaurant to which older guys come and can afford girls to sprinkle with money. One bill is 500 lira, it is equal to $ 1. Let me remind you the average salary of state employees in Syria is $ 50.

Damascus

The minimum order for the table is $ 20, the table is as follows. In a jug and in glasses not milk, but a local alcoholic drink - arak.

Damascus

 

And this is a bar with karaoke function and live music.

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Syria

There is one important point concerning the Syrian girls, which is worth noting. Syrian girls very rarely go out to hang out at nightclubs of the female company. And if they go there to rest, then they go there, either with their boyfriend, or with their brother, or with a friend.

Syria slums and devastation - the city of Zabadani

Reading this report may give the deceptive impression that in Syria, everything is fine and good now. But this is not at all the case. For example, it is worth driving 50 km from Damascus. and see the ruins before the resort town of Zabadani. The population of the city used to be about 35 thousand people and many residents of Damascus came here for the weekend. Now the city is completely destroyed and some residents live in houses with only two or three walls.

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Syria

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Arabic inscription - we will soon be in the heart of Damascus

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Hall of Fame, dead bandits

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In such houses, where there are only two walls, many residents of Zabadani live

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And now the video in which you see, what is not included in the photo report.

Video trip to Syria

 
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